CHANTILLY, Va. — AFCEA Belvoir Industry Days got off to a strong start Nov. 7 with a morning keynote by Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6, Lt. Gen. John Morrison, followed by panel discussions with leaders from the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems’ Business Mission Area and Enterprise Information Environment Mission Area.
DCS, G-6 Keynote
The theme of the three-day AFCEA conference, “Zeroing in on the Cloud, Data and the Unified Network,” struck a chord with Morrison.
“I don’t know how you separate the three of those,” he said, noting that “in the end, they all need to be mutually supporting and completely integrated and synchronized.”
Morrison, who in his role as DCS, G-6 has spoken at two previous AFCEA Belvoir Industry Days, said while his underlying message hasn’t changed over time, some key dynamics have — most notably that the unified network and supporting Army Data Plan are now key objectives within the Army Campaign Plan being driven by Army senior leaders.
“This is not a G-6 thing; the unified network, our data efforts, our cloud efforts are an Army thing that are being measured and driven through implementation plans across our Army,” he said.
The Army is beginning to move at unprecedented speed in developing and deploying capabilities, noted Morrison, and is evolving toward iterative capability development. This is necessary for learning how to fight differently and faster.
“In the end, the unified network, cloud and data are all about decision dominance,” he said, “and it should change the way that we fight.”
Working with industry partners will be critical for enabling the Army to find the right blend of military and commercial capabilities, fused securely together to operate in a contested and congested environment, said Morrison.
“We need to have that dialogue … we need to challenge each other so we can get after this notion of the unified network that zeroes in on cloud and data,” he said.
What the Army seeks is technology for operational or business benefit, concluded Morrison before engaging in a dialogue with audience members.
“When we can bring those synchronized and integrated capabilities of our joint force to bear far faster than our adversaries could ever imagine, that is operational benefit … that is where we need industry’s help,” he said.
Business Mission Area Panel
Following the DCS, G-6’s keynote, PEO EIS leaders discussed how the Army’s enterprise IT acquisition organization is evolving in alignment with Big Army and increasingly incorporating industry feedback during the procurement process.
“We’re evolving into an Agile organization,” said Lee James, assistant program executive officer for the Business Mission Area and moderator of a panel discussion with leaders from his portfolio. “To make that shift toward Agile, we have to upskill our workforce,” he added, noting that this is an ongoing effort.
Both the Army’s Enterprise Business Systems — Convergence and Army Training Information System programs within EIS’ portfolio are employing versions of Agile, said Col. Rob Wolfe, who’s filling a short-term developmental role as deputy program executive officer at EIS before returning to his permanent role as Army Data and Analytics Platforms project manager. He noted that EIS listened to industry feedback when crafting the second draft prototype project opportunity notice for Enterprise Business Systems — Convergence.
The first and second draft prototype project opportunity notices are “two very distinctly different documents, and that is based mostly on industry feedback,” said Wolfe.
EIS’ Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army portfolio is also looking to “adopt and get on the Agile train,” according to IPPS-A Project Manager Col. RJ Mikesh.
“I’m really aimed at transforming both my program management offices at the product level and project level … I’ve got to get the process and people aligned … and that will yield being able to develop the software in an Agile way,” he said.
One opportunity to do that may be with the portfolio’s Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care program, which will transform and rebrand at the end of fiscal year 2023 into “Operational Medical Information System – Army.” At that time, the program will stop providing hardware to Soldiers and focus solely on software, said Mikesh.
The Agile approach also has taken hold in EIS’ Defense Integrated Business Systems portfolio, including within its General Fund Enterprise Business System, Army Contract Writing System and ArmyIgnitED programs.
The Army Contract Writing System is “on a very positive pathway right now,” said Defense Integrated Business Systems Project Manager Kevin Curry, noting that they have been working with sister services — primarily the Air Force — and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the capability, which will have its initial release in early 2023.
Enterprise Information Environment Mission Area Panel
The unified network was the primary topic of discussion among leaders from EIS’ Networks, Cyber and Services portfolio.
Within the Enterprise Services project management office headed up by Sergio Alvarez, the Enterprise Content Collaboration and Messaging product office is heavily involved with the identity, credential and access management piece of EIS’ support for the unified network, according to Alvarez.
The other components of EIS’ unified network support — secret internet protocol router network modernization and voice modernization — are priorities for Col. Jay Shell’s Integrated Enterprise Network PMO.
“We are going to take phones off desks,” said Shell of the voice modernization effort, noting that the Army aims to reduce 75% of hard phones for soft clients.
Meanwhile, Defensive Cyber Operations Project Manager Col. Mark Taylor said the Army has received enhanced budget control over cyber in the past few years and is trying to become more efficient with its cyber acquisition dollars spent. Defensive Cyber Operations is the only Army participant in the Budget Activity 8 Software and Digital Technology pilot, and Taylor said he aims to continue showing the benefits of that program, which realigns existing funds into a single appropriation.